Monday, August 13, 2007

Here's what I would do with 2 grand...

OK, heres what I would suggest to anyone with $2,000 to spend on a new gaming machine.

Like my other gaming builds, this one also uses an Antec case. This time its the Antec Nine Hundred model. This case is a gamers dream with two front mounted 120mm intake fans, one three speed 120mm exhaust fan, and a top mounted 200mm exhaust fan. Lots of room and plenty of space for multiple hard drives, this is simply one of the best cases made.

To power this system requires a step up in class to a PC Power and Cooling "Silencer 610" 610W power supply. With an ultra quiet cooling design, and gobs of available current, this is one of the best gaming power supplies made. Unlike many lesser supplies, this one features a single 12v rail capable of supplying a whopping 49 amps. This is critical for a performance system like this because the video card we will be using requires 26 amps alone. Most multiple rail supplies put out 18 amps per rail. That simply not enough for todays video cards.

Antec Nine Hundred Case - $129.99 (free shipping)
PC Power and Cooling Silencer 610 - $158.67

As much as I like AMD, for high performance systems, Intel's Core 2 Duo simply can't be beat right now. That may change next year with the upcoming Phenom CPU's from AMD, but we're building for today, not next year. So I chose the E6750 running at 2.66 Ghz, with a 4 MB L2 Cache. At $211, you just can't beat the performance/price ratio. And to top it off, this thing overclocks like mad. 3.4 Ghz is easily achievable with air cooling. We'll top it off with a CPU cooler from Acrtic Cooling - the Freezer Pro 7. The Freezer Pro series are excellent coolers, they are quiet, effective and they point in the right direction. When properly installed they direct the hot air from the CPU straight out to the rear exhaust fan. This is the most effective way to cool your system. You want linear airflow from front to back. The down draft type coolers that blow straight down on the motherboard create too much turbulence inside the case for really effective cooling.

The motherboard was a harder choice. I thought about an Nvidia 680i based board, but when it came right down to it, I felt the Intel P35 chipset was better suited for this build, since this is going to be using a single GPU. So I chose an Abit P35 motherboard. For the last couple of years, Abit has been my 'backup' brand of choice when there is no Biostar Tforce model available. Biostar has a P35 Tforce board, but its very new and still has some bugs. The Abit board seems to be a better product at this time. This board supports all the latest processors, including the quad cores and the extreme series. It also supports the 1333 Mhz FSB for the latest Conroe CPU's . It features 8 channel HD audio, Gigabit LAN, 4 rear USB 2.0 ports, 4 memory slots, 3 PCI slots, 2 PCIe x1 slots and one PCIe X16 slot.

Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU - $211.99 (free shipping)
Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 7 - $40.83
Abit IP35-E motherboard - $121.60

Memory was also a tougher choice this time, but I stayed with the Corsair XMS2 line, but stepped up to the faster 1066 Mhz (PC8500) speed. A bit more pricier, but for a performance machine that may be overclocked for higher performance, its really what you need. 'Standard' DDR2-800 just won't cut it under those conditions.

Corsair XMS2 DDR2-1066 RAM 4x 1GB - $348.00 (free shipping)

Next comes the drives - for this one we're stepping up to the Seagate 400 GB SATA 3.0 GB drive. Its a great deal at $99.99. For the CDROM drive I chose the Liteon black 20x DVD writer with lightscribe.

Seagate 400 GB SATA 3.0 Gb 16MB Cache Hard Drive - $106.13
Liteon 20X DVD writer with Lightscribe - $37.83

Since this is a true high performance build, we are going to need some high performance sound. Most motherboard sound chips are far from 'high performance' and even relatively cheap sound cards will usually sound better. For this build I selected the HT Omega Striker 7.1 card. This has 7.1 sound and built-in Dolby Digital and DTS hardware decoding. Since we're talking sound here I will include the speakers - Creative Inspire P7800 90W 7.1 surround speaker system. Your movies, music and games will sound amazing in 7.1 surround.

HT Omega Striker 7.1 Sound Card - $85.68
Creative Inspire P7800 7.1 Speakers - $104.18

Now comes the Video card. Since this is not going to be an 'all out' SLI system we do need a decent card but not necessarily the 'top of the line'. I chose to go with a Geforce 8800GTS 320 MB Card from EVGA. Its got plenty of RAM for what we are putting together and is plenty powerful, without busting our $2k budget.

EVGA Geforce 8800GTS 320 MB Video card - $286.32

Ok, this puts us at $1631.52 for everything but the keyboard, mouse and monitor. Lets add these items in...

Microsoft comfort Curve Keyboard and mouse - $28.32
Acer 22" Black DVI 5ms Widescreen monitor - $229.16

This gives us a grand total of $1889.00 comfortably under our $2k limit for this build.

Next installment will be an all-out "balls to the wall" build.

See ya then,